Prognosis for pot facilities in area towns

Prognosis for pot facilities in area towns

These past few months, local governments and economic development organizations in central Illinois have been fielding calls from potential investors eager to grow or dispense medical marijuana in their backyards. Staff writers NOELLE MCGEE and TRACY MOSS look at where things stand with area municipalities a few weeks before the state begins accepting applications for cultivation centers and dispensaries.

Illinois State Police District 10

Champaign: Middle of the road

Champaign city officials are still considering whether to make zoning changes, specifically addressing dispensaries and cultivation centers. There's only one very small area in the northeast part of the city — near Olympian Drive and Market Street — that would work for cultivation, but likely several commercially-zoned areas for dispensaries. Any changes would come in the next 60-90 days, said Rob Kowalski, assistant director of planning and development.

"We're not actively trying to recruit. It's not an economic development initiative, but also it's not something we're looking to restrict necessarily. Right now, we're treating it like any other business inquiry. We're not falling hard either way," he said.

Urbana: Pot has potential

On Aug. 4, the city changed its zoning, opening the door to cultivation centers and dispensaries, which Urbana sees as a new business opportunity. Cultivation centers will need city or zoning board approval but dispensaries won't. "We wanted to be permissive, but not to the point that we're allowing everything," said City Planner Kevin Garcia.

Danville: Wants local control

On Sept. 4, planning and zoning officials may vote to allow cultivation centers in the industrial and agriculturally-zoned areas on Danville's edges and dispensaries in scattered sites throughout the municipality, but require special-use permits first. That would allow the city to scrutinize the potential impact on the surrounding area.

Rantoul: Good opportunity

Mayor Chuck Smith sees a cultivation center as a good economic development opportunity, and village officials have had interest from developers. Zoning changes allowing the businesses will be voted on in coming weeks. Dispensaries would be allowed in commercial districts and cultivation centers in industrial areas west of Interstate 57, on the Chanute Air Force base and in agricultural areas with a special-use permit.

Monticello: In the works

After a brief discussion on Monday, the council asked the zoning board to look at modifying the code to allow for businesses at its Aug. 18 meeting. The city may allow dispensaries in business and other districts with building permits, and cultivation centers in industrial, conservation and rural settings with conditional-use permits.

Illinois State Police District 21

Iroquois County: Pot promising

County board members have expressed interest in marijuana businesses, saying they would bring jobs, tax revenue and investment in infrastructure. Cultivation centers are already allowed in agricultural areas under the county's zoning ordinance.

Board Chairman Rod Copas said the county has had a lot of inquiries, the most promising from a business with growing centers in other states.

Illinois State Police District 6

DeWitt County: Rolling out welcome mat

The county board got started early, voting on July 10 to change zoning, making DeWitt friendly to such businesses. Dispensaries and cultivation centers would be allowed in agricultural and industrial areas. Dispensaries would also be allowed in business districts with a special-use permit.

"We're ready," said zoning administrator Mike Bradford, who added they've had inquiries from cultivation center developers.

Farmer City: High interest

City Manager Larry Woliung said city council members have avid interest. "When you're talking new jobs in small towns ... it means a lot," he said. "Every vendor has thrown out something different. One said 50 to 60 jobs, and another said 100."

City officials designated 20 acres in a commercially-zoned area as ideal for a cultivation center, and a couple vendors have taken a look. One's from Chicago; another is local.

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